Caterpillar claims to be the world's leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines, industrial gas turbines and diesel-electric locomotives. This company can therefore be seen as some sort of barometer for the 'real' American economy. And what it shows is certainly not good. It's horrendous.
Strangely, the price Caterpillar's shares seems to disbelieve and disregard reality and hits an all-time high.
Update March 02, 2017] Caterpillar stock closed down after law enforcement raided its offices. See here. While it wasn't immediate clear what the reason was for the search, it was yet another sign that Caterpillar is sailing very close to the wind.
[Update April, 24, 2017] Are Caterpillar's woes over? After 51 months of declines, Caterpillar reported a paltry rise over March in its world retail sales of 1% Y/Y, the first increase since November 2012. The reason: Asia/Pacific (aka China), saw a 46% surge in total machine sales, up from 39% last month. Aside from China, however, the drought remained as every other region posted a decline in annual sales, led by Latin America (down 25%), North America (down 13%) and EAME (down 3%).